Thursday Speaker: Dominique Lazanski

I first met Dominique Lazanski at an ASI drinks event celebrating victory at the Hayek vs Keynes debate at the LSE. At the time, I had just started up this website and with the help of Andy Janes we were spamming the libertarian community with annoying little yellow cards with the web and twitter address on them, and making an absurdly ambitious sales pitch for what we wanted to do with the site. I spammed Dominique and was encouraged to find that here was a person campaigning from the right on the issue of digital rights. The Open Rights Group, under the leadership of former Green Party activist Jim Killock was moving no further towards the centre and an actual Classical Liberal operating in this space was good news.

Dominique writes for at least three group blogs and online magazines, who universally describe her as having 12 years of real work experience in the IT industry, including Silicon Valley, and being heavily involved in policy work. The Huffington Post provides the most useful bio:

Dominique Lazanski is Head of Digital Policy at the TaxPayers’ Alliance and the Senior Fellow, Technology Policy at Big Brother Watch

Dominique has spent over 12 years in the Internet industry with many of those years working in Silicon Valley. She has a long held interest in public policy and participatory government. She has written and spoken on digital issues over the years from a free market and entrepreneurial perspective. She holds degrees from Cornell University and the London School of Economics.

It turns out she has spent time at Yahoo and EBay as a taxonomist and a data-manager; and a year with Apple, where she was “responsible for creating and pushing out the iTunes online stores”. She has also worked with music labels as well as Cloud computing firm EMC. Since then, she has taken up working as a freelance consultant and worked on the International Chamber of Commerce’s Cyber Conference, where William Hague was keynote speaker.

I next caught up with her at the talk she gave for the Open Rights Group at the Rose and Crown, entitled “ITU: Should the UN take over the Internet?”. I thought the answer was pretty obvious and ensured that I went along to say “No, of course not”, and I was pleased to find myself completely redundant. Dominique’s talk on that topic went something like this: “So the title of this walk is Should the UN take over the Internet? Well, the answer is obviously: no! right? So what’s the background?…” The background, it turns out is so arcane and complicated that I would do myself an injustice if I attempted to relate it here. In summary, the ITU, a nasty messy pseudo-governmental bureaucracy was about to vote itself into a position of authority for things it had no real business being a part of, and without asking any of the people that mattered, like the users, for instance. The detail Dominique commanded on the inner workings of this entity was astonishing, and it came as no surprise at all that she was on her way out to Dubai to their WCIT meeting to fight the good fight and try to talk some sense into them.

At our last speaking event Brian Micklethwait put libertarian activists on a scale. The simple work of defining libertarianism and raising up the flag was at one end. Detailed policy work, such as deciding how to privatize roads, are at the other end. Dominique seems to operate with such minute and frankly boring details that it seems as though Brian will need a longer scale. It was about half way through her talk for the Open Rights Group that I realised that the main thing of interest about her is how she manages to deal with all of that. She tells me that she “only” spends half her time on this part of her career but frankly I feel I am lucky to spend a few hours in a day on my politics and so how she sustains this economically is a seriously interesting question.

Dominique will speak about this, and about the content of her work, including her new manifesto on digital freedoms, on Thursday at the Rose and Crown.

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